The State Study of Alexander I
The Vaulted Passage Room gives access to the State (or Marble) Study of the Catherine Palace that was created for the Emperor to Stasov’s design in 1817 and intended for important official audiences.
The striking architectural treatment of the interior is underlined by the austere simplicity of the decoration. The entrance has been given the form of a deep semicircular niche separated from the main space of the room by two Ionic columns. A similar device has been used on the opposite wall where two Ionic columns flank the marble fireplace. The walls of the study are faced with light pink artificial marble, hence its alternative name.
The original finishing work on the study was carried out by the artist Fridolino Toricelli (the painted frieze with ancient trophies and putti; narrative compositions from the story of Cupid and Psyche); the sculptor Ferdinand Triscornia (the fireplace), the craftsman Shchennikov (marble on the walls), Tarasov (parquet and mahogany doors) and Franz Grosse (mahogany furniture set to Stasov’s designs).
In 1821-22 Stasov oversaw the restoration of the study after the fire. The marble-work at that time was done by Blokhin and the painting was restored by Brandukov, while new furniture was made from Persian walnut in the workshop of Andrei Tur.
The serious damage inflicted on the study during the Second World War (the marble and the murals suffered badly; the parquet and almost all the furniture were lost) made new restoration work necessary. Finally in 1974 the State Study was presented to visitors looking as it did before.
Today the room contains an impressive vase produced at the Imperial Porcelain Factory and decorated with a depiction of Alexander I entering Paris in 1814 and a mantel clock incorporating a bronze figure of Julius Caesar, made by Lucien-François Feuchère (no later than 1817). Displayed on the Emperor’s desk are personal possessions of his made from Urals malachite in the first quarter of the nineteenth century at the Peterhof Lapidary Works: a writing set, a table lamp, a few paperweights, candelabra and decorative vases.